OPINION: OBJ, IBB AND BUHARI: HOW TIME FLIES, BY TAIWO ADISA

  • Post By Newsbreak on February 12, 2018
OPINION: OBJ, IBB AND BUHARI: HOW TIME FLIES, BY TAIWO ADISA

IN my first year in the University, I read a poem which deifies Time as the all in all. In that poem, Time took the defiant character of Wole Soyinka’s Abiku. The poet sees Time as the builder and the destroyer that cracks the teeth of the lion, makes and unmakes kings, kingdoms and empires. In recent times, the same Time is playing out its acts in the midst of Nigeria’s political juggernauts and it is living right to that all-conquering status. Last week, former Military President Ibrahim Babangida issued a statement which was signed on his behalf by Kassim Afegbua. The statement followed a similar damning riposte from former President Olusegun Obasanjo in January. Reactions that greeted the statements from official and unofficial circles have been shocking and unsavoury, especially to watchers of Time. While one could pardon the official reaction to Obasanjo’s 18-page letter, which was tempered and largely dodged the issues, actions following IBB’s press release have appeared disproportionate with democratic practice. In January, Obasanjo, in his usual character of playing the academic in the political space, picked up the pen he dropped in 2013, after addressing a similar letter to the President Goodluck Jonathan, and addressed the lengthy one to President Muhammadu Buhari. It was his scorecard of Buhari’s three years in the saddle and a damning one at that. He scored Buhari very low and concluded that the President should quietly return to Daura in 2019 without seeking re-election. Two days after the letter was issued, government’s spokesman, Lai Mohammed was to reply Obasanjo, wearing a sober look. He begged the questions and found a corner to promote the government. Thereafter, some social media activists went on top gear, castigating Obasanjo in words and visuals they circulate. Some went on overdrive by attempting to pass off the letter Obasanjo’s daughter, Senator Iyabo wrote in counter to her father’s letter to Jonathan in 2013. Iyabo promptly issued a rebuttal and that died down. A group had also secured pages in several newspapers and circulated articles intended to reduce the impact of the damning Obasanjo letter on Buhari. The experience with Babangida’s statement is, however, at variance with democratic guarantees of freedom of speech and association. Afegbua, who signed the statement for Babangida, and has done that for some 14 years was declared wanted by the Police for issuing “false statements.” The police on Wednesday apologized to the former Commissioner after he appeared at the Force Headquarters with his lawyer, Kayode Ajulo and friends. The same day, Afegbua got calls from the Headquarters of the Department of State Security (DSS) but he was only interrogated on Friday. In a statement he issued after his interrogation, Afegbua claimed that his life was being threatened by some unknown persons. Looking at the frenzy in the media and the security circles about the flying letters from OBJ and IBB, one would easily muse: How time flies. Recall that on December 22, 2013, many of whom today are either playing open or clandestine roles in the Obasanjo deconstruction agenda, in the wake of the open letter were part of the delegation that adorned themselves in Agbada and Babariga to visit Obasanjo in his Abeokuta home and plead with him to act as the “Navigator” for the emerging All Progressives Congress. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, acclaimed as the National Leader of the APC was on the delegation, just as now President Muhammadu Buhari, then Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande and the Governor of Imo state, Chief Rochas Okorocha. Others included Alhaji Kawu Baraje, leader of the New PDP, which broke away from the mainstream PDP to join the APC; former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff; Senator Bukola Saraki (now Senate President); the then Governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; and a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode. Governors Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), then Governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi, his Kano counterpart, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso; Babatunde Raji Fashola, then Lagos state Governor, now Minister of Power, Works and Housing; and the Governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, among others. Tinubu said at the gathering: “You have come out of tribulation and held the highest position in this country. We are here because of your courage and salient points. Nobody can say he has information more than you.” He added: “You have surmounted a number of crises. Nigeria is divided more than before. To realise a stable Nigeria, we want to encourage you to continue to speak the truth. We have resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you to be our navigator.” Rochas Okorocha also said at the meeting: “Many of the governors passed through your political school, the battle is for the generation unborn. It is a task that must be done.” Though Obasanjo played politics with his reply, it was clear where he was going. He said: “I am a card-carrying member of the PDP but the politics I play traverse Nigeria, Africa and the world in that order. ”I am a democrat and one of the essential ingredients of democracy is opposition. A democracy that has no opposition built into it is not a democracy. “In whichever party, for whatever office that contested or aspired in Nigeria since 1999, such a person, young or old man or woman can claim to be my political child and I can claim to be by virtue of the political office I have held. I can also claim to be a political father; so, you are here and you are welcome.” It is instructive that Tinubu’s reply to Obasanjo’s letter on Buhari is to say the Ota farmer was “playing politics.” What else would an international politician like OBJ play in a season of politics? But the truth is playing out, really, Time, the ultimate, is playing its game at all. (newsbreak)